Description

    ALMAHATA SITTA METEORITE - FROM THE ONLY ASTEROID EVER TRACKED PRIOR TO EARTH IMPACT
    Ureilite - URE anom
    Nahr an Nil, Sudan - (20° 44' 45"N, 32° 24' 46"E)
    On October 6, 2008, Richard Kowalski discovered a new asteroid as part of a congressionally mandated mission to attempt to identify and inventory NEOs (near-Earth objects) that pose a hazard to Earth. Richard, also a meteorite collector, has discovered thousands of asteroids over the years. This night was different, though, because when his observations were reported to the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge Massachusetts, an orbit computation immediately determined that the object, named 2008 TC3, was on a collision course with Earth! Within hours, observatories around the world were trained on its approach as astronomers assessed the threat - a scenario that until that moment had been the stuff of science fiction. Never before had an asteroid been observed in space and tracked prior to Earth impact, which NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory determined would occur within a day. When 2008 TC3 entered the atmosphere, it was traveling at 29,000 miles per hour. When it exploded dozens of miles above Earth's surface, it unleashed the energy of at least a kiloton of TNT. A blinding light was reported in the vicinity, and the pilots of a passenger jet more than 850 miles away reported the bright flash. Luckily, 2008 TC3 was small and landed as predicted in the Nubian Desert of Northern Sudan.

    A search of the anticipated impact zone resulted in the recovery of only thirty-five pounds of meteorites - the vast majority of this mass having vaporized or disintegrated on impact with the atmosphere. In accordance with the guidelines of the Nomenclature Committee of the Meteoritical Society, former NEO 2008 TC3 became Almahata Sitta, Arabic for "Station Six," a station stop on the rail line to Khartoum. Almahata Sitta is a most unusual meteorite, and not only as a result of its grand entrance. It is a ureilite - a very rare class of meteorites that contains nanodiamonds, a nanocrystalline form of diamond, the hardest material known to man. It also contains carbonaceous grains containing amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. The specimen now offered is a coarse-grained ureilitic meteorite blanketed with black fusion crust - the result of burning through the atmosphere. The rarity and scientific importance of Almahata Sitta cannot be overstated. A special edition of Meteoritics and Planetary Science as well as a National Geographic Special were devoted uniquely to the Almahata Sitta event. 15 x 12 x 11mm (.59 x .47 x .43 inches) and 2.95 grams.

    Provenance: Siegfried Haberer and Karin Schneider Collection


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    Condition report available upon request.

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    Auction Dates
    October, 2012
    14th Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 5
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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